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Volunteers prep for Thanksgiving meal

Mabel Emery, left, and Liz Smith prepare turkey Wednesday morning for today's community Thanksgiving meal. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

A community Thanksgiving meal will be served today at Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji.

The free meal, offering the traditional Thanksgiving fixings like turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie, will be served from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the church, 115 Carr Lake Road SW.

Wayne Ward, who is in charge of this year's meal, said the church prepared food to serve 600 people, including delivery to 300. He encouraged those wanting to participate to show up at the church, take a number and enjoy the meal.

And there's been plenty of help in pulling off this year's meal, which was prepared with 20 turkeys weighing about 20 pounds apiece.

"This thing has been going so long people just show up to help," Ward said.

Ann Welch, a cook for St. Philip's Catholic Church, has been helping with the Thanksgiving for about a dozen years. The meal is now in its 32nd year.

"I think it's a good thing and I don't want to see it disappear," Welch said Wednesday, adding the meal helps serve a need in the community. "Right now, I can't ever see it coming to an end."

Last year, about 515 people were served Thanksgiving meals, with 215 meals delivered.

In addition to turkey, Welch said volunteers prepare about 200 pounds of potatoes, 120 pounds of corn, 78 pumpkin pies and 16 aluminum trays of dressing.

She said the weather plays a big role in how many show up each year. When the weather is nice and more people are able to travel, the meal sees a smaller turnout. When the weather isn't nice, more people show up at whichever area church is hosting the meal.

Free-will donations will be accepted at the door for those able to offset the meal costs.